CISPA Might Not Be So Bad After AllBy: Zach Walton - April 25, 2012
What I’m about to say may shock you. So if you’re a sensitive user of the Internet, you may want to go back to Reddit and look at funny pictures to soothe your soul. Here it goes: I don’t think CISPA is as bad as everybody is making it out to be. Right now, most readers are probably thinking, “This guy has hit the loony jackpot and spewing insanity coins everywhere.” I assure you that I have not lost it and all will be explained.
To understand the current fight against CISPA, let’s look at what came before it: SOPA and PIPA. Both bills were absolutely destructive forces of calamitous intent that sought to destroy the very thing we hold near and dear to our hearts – the Internet. In their current form, these twin pieces of legislation would wreck havoc on the world and the Internet as we know it. It’s a good thing the Internet stepped in and stopped all of it before it could do any harm.
Now let’s take a look at CISPA. A lot of people, including our own writers, will tell you that CISPA is just SOPA wrapped in a pretty bow of cybersecurity. Full disclosure: I myself have written about the dangers of CISPA and the reasons as to why it’s rotten. The more I look at it though, the more I realize that it’s not the same apocalyptic monstrosity that was SOPA.
First, let’s look at the main ideal behind CISPA – cybersecurity. It’s all about setting up a network where ISPs, Internet companies like Facebook and the government can freely share information that may pose a threat to the nation’s cyber welfare. I think we call agree that the basis behind the legislation is at the very least noble.
The main cause for concern, and I’ll admit it’s a pretty big concern, is just how much information Facebook and ISPs can share with the government. I really don’t want Facebook sharing my personal details with the government and I sure as hell don’t want my ISP handing over my IP address to the authorities either.
The problem with this line of thinking though is a presumption of privacy. We all think that we have privacy on the Internet when that is clearly not the case. As much as Facebook touts privacy as one of its biggest concerns, they’re all too willing to hand over your entire life if its subpoenaed. Of course, Facebook doesn’t have your life story unless you’re willing to share it. You think CISPA threatens your online privacy, might want to take a look at your own Facebook profile before you start pointing fingers.
I realize that we choose to share this information with our peers and have faith that Facebook, Google+ or any other social network won’t hand this information out to anybody but the people we want seeing it. That’s a viable request and one that these services should implement. Browsers are implementing a “Do Not Track” button later this year in response to these concerns, but it’s unlikely the option will actually do much to protect privacy.
All of this is to say that CISPA isn’t so bad when you look at it objectively. All it does is make it easier for the Internet and government to exchange information. What information? Information that you have already made publicly available online. While there may be some abuse in terms of sharing the real private stuff like email and text messages, those concerns should be addressed in the final bill.
A recent OP-ED on Mashable confirmed that CISPA is being changed due to the complaints of Internet users. It might not be the holy grail of privacy protection that you want it to be, but it probably won’t be the Big Brother Orwellian society you think it’s going to create either.
With that being said, I still encourage protesting CISPA and I have added my name to the petition against it. There’s still problems in CISPA that are worth addressing, but the fact of the matter is that CISPA isn’t the end all be all when it comes to the erasure of our own privacy. We’re doing that just fine by ourselves.
By the way, if you’re so concerned about privacy, maybe you should direct your attention towards the current destroyers of actual privacy. The TSA has been effectively violating privacy in ways worse than CISPA could ever imagine and they’re even stealing your money. The NSA is also rumored to be building a giant spy surveillance center that will collection information on U.S. citizens. CISPA doesn’t even begin to scratch the absolute absurdity of these other organizations when it comes to violations of privacy.
The whole point here is to say that yes, CISPA is a cause for concern, but don’t treat it like it’s the next incarnation of SOPA. Save all your rage and ange for the likes of ACTA and TPP. In the meantime, enter into dialogs with your elected congresspeople over your concerns. It’s apparently working and they are listening. I’m pretty sure they don’t want their privacy violated either.